Thursday, April 17, 2014

What's taking so long?

Not yet ready to fly off into the sunset.
Looks like this blog might be around for a while yet...

By all accounts, it looks like Canada won't able to start receiving new fighter aircraft until 2018 at the earliest.  There has been some progress however, as the "secretariat" seems to have finished looking at the CF-35 and its rivals.  It is now up to the federal government to make the next step.

What will that next step be?

If the Canadian government decides to continue on with the F-35, it needs to plunk money down now in order to take delivery in 2018.  That's looking more and more unlikely.  A general election is scheduled for October 2015 (possibly earlier) and the current government will likely hold off any decision until after that.  Dropping billions towards new fighters will simply evaporate any hope of the Conservative Party of Canada's (CPC) promise to balance the budget.

The Buffalo will roam for a little while longer too.
The current CPC government has made it clear they are in no hurry to procure new military equipment.  This is made abundantly clear by its recent decision to throw out all progress made on the fixed wing search and rescue (FWSAR) replacement program and start over.  Seeing as how the FWSAR program is even further behind that of the CF-18 replacement, it seems to be almost certain that the Tories will restart the fighter replacement program under its new Defense Procurement Strategy (DPS).  If nothing else, it gives reason enough to delay any decision for another year or two.

In the end, this might not be such a bad thing.

There seems to be no reason to rush into buying the F-35.  It is still trouble prone and over budget.  Any airframes bought now would likely have to be sent back to correct problems still being found.  It is still far from a mature platform.  Meanwhile, the Gripen E/F should be just about ready by 2018.   The Typhoon will likely have its fancy new AESA radar and EFTs.  The Advanced Super Hornet may have gotten the go-ahead by then as well.

The future production of the Super Hornet and Typhoon is still very much up in the air, with production tentatively winding down in 2016 and 2017 respectively.  Both will likely fight tooth-and-nail to win orders from Denmark.  A Canadian order could very well save those production lines, but would it be in time?  Most likely, lines could be slowed down, but not shut down during an active bidding process...  As long as things don't take too long.

Of course, the one real drawback to waiting longer is that our current fleet of CF-18s will have to soldier long past their prime.  Let us just hope that current tensions in the Asian Pacific and the unpleasantness in Ukraine don't boil over in the meantime.




2 comments:

  1. That's me.... again...

    I'm sorry to be the guy that point out every detail, but didn't you mean CFTs (Conformal Fuel Tanks) rather than EFTs (External Fuel Tanks) about Typhoon?

    Anyway, "The Globe and Mail" seems pretty confident F-35 is "the best" and will be chosen one way or another : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/f-35-remains-top-military-replacement-option/article18063309/

    Could Ukraine Crisis be an "excuse" to purchase the most expensive aircraft?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why is it taking so long ?
    The conservatives are just procrastinating in the hope that problems get solved before they really have to make their choice.
    1. If there's no competition left, the closing down of the assembly lines of the Super Hornet, the Eagle and, who knows, the Typhoon, will leave very little choice. The Gripen, the Rafale and the F-35 Lame Duck.
    2. Who knows, maybe the cost of buying the F-35 will plummet ? Highly unlikely...
    3. Who knows, the cost to keep the F-35 flying will drop ? Pull my leg.
    4. Who knows, the performances and reliability of the F-35 will improve to the point that the initial targets are finally met ? Pull the other one, it's got bells on. I've already written it, an old F-16 Falcon has better performances than the F-35 apart from it's stealthiness, and everybody starts to know what this is worth.
    To sum it up, waiting is the not so cunning way of forcing Canada to buy the F-35.

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